I’m convinced that humans make a big deal out of anniversaries in multiples of 10 because we have ten fingers. The RFC is not immune to this trend. We’ve staged major programs in New York City on the 40th and 50th anniversary of my parents’ execution, and are already beginning to plan for the 60th in June 2013. But for me every anniversary is important, and whether I am marking it quietly at home or on stage before thousands, it is an emotionally laden time.
Next week, for the second time in four years, I will spend June 19th in another country. In 2009, I was in Paris. This year I will travel to Rio de Janeiro to mark the 59th anniversary of my parents’ execution at Midrash, a progressive Jewish cultural center in that city. Following events there on June 18th and 19th, I will move on to São Paulo for events on June 20th and 21st co-sponsored by Livraria da Vila and Casa do Saber. People here may be surprised to learn that in January 1953 the U.S. embassy in Brazil took pains to explain to the Secretary of State’s office in Washington DC that the Brazilian movement to save my parents’ lives was communist inspired. The dispatch also stated, perhaps in contradiction, that the thousands of Brazilian signatures on the clemency petitions “probably reflect the Brazilian antipathy to capital punishment rather than support of the communist campaign or belief in the couple’s innocence.” The U.S. consulate in Porto Alegre noted in a dispatch dated June 16th, 1953 that “the Consulate has been requested by the President of the City Council of Porto Alegre to transmit to President Dwight D. Eisenhower a resolution passed by the City Council asking that the President pardon the Rosenbergs.” [Exoneration: The Rosenberg-Sobell Case in the 21st Century, Emily and David Alman, Green Elms Press, 2010, p. 423.]
Whenever I speak about my parents’ case outside of the United States I meet people who tell me stories about what they, their parents or even their grandparents were doing when they learned of the executions. Up until now I have only spoken on this topic internationally in Canada, Europe, Japan and Taiwan. This will be my first opportunity to address people in South America. In fact, this will be the first time in my life that I have ventured south of the equator.
I look forward to encountering another culture. There is so much to learn, and I will barely scratch the surface of such a vast and complex nation in the eight days I will be in Brazil. I expect to return with experiences worth recounting, and I hope to share them with you in a couple of weeks.
[Information about Robert Meeropol's events in Rio De Janeiro on June 18th and 19th, and São Paulo on June 20th and 21st, is available at http://www.rfc.org/pressreleases and http://www.rfc.org/events.]
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